June 18, 2018
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Fine vintage paperweights fetch highest prices

www.ha.com | BDN
www.ha.com | BDN
The circa 1970 autograph by astronaut Neil Armstrong brought $38,838 in a recent sale of space exploration memorabilia at Heritage Auctions.
By Danielle Arnet, Tribune Media Services

Q: My grandfather has two antique glass paperweights he wants to know about. He says the maker is Stanhope. I can’t find any info on the maker. Can you help?

A: Images sent show two ball-shaped glass paperweights. One has a green ground topped by a flat center flower with stem and leaves. The other features a swirling ocean-like image in blues and greens.

Smart collectors know that glass paperweights are collector favorites. Some can be bought for relatively little; others are downright precious.

When it comes to these precious marbles, “buy what you like” makes sense. But when you like the very best antique paperweights, you need to know your stuff. Earlier this month, a circa 1848 Baccarat millefiori (million flowers) weight sold for $1,700 at auction.

Contemporary paperweights by glass artisans are plentiful and more affordable. Some are outstanding. Here, you really can have what you like.

Grandpa identified the maker of his weights as Stanhope. I wonder if he means Selkirk. Each certainly has the look of a Selkirk product. They would be vintage or near-contemporary, not antique.

Scot glassmaker Peter Holmes (b. 1947) founded Selkirk in 1977. These days, he concentrates on creating art glass, but back in the 1990s his paperweights were widely sold and collected worldwide. One can still buy new versions from that era for about $140 online. Selkirk weights on the secondary market fetch, depending on design, $50 to prices above their value when made.

Originally, the weights sold in presentation boxes and came with papers. If the boxes and papers are still around, that would solve the mystery of origin.

Our reader keyed what he thinks is marked on the bottom of each weight, but none of that info makes sense. Only the mark “’83” seems plausible. I assume any paper label is long gone.

To see if the paperweights are Selkirk, check those bottom marks with a jeweler’s loupe or high-power magnification. Good Selkirk weights have Peter Holmes, edition details, and year (such as ‘83’) marked on the bottom. Also look for the letters PH inserted into the flat end of a glass cane or rod on the bottom. It will be very small.

To view Selkirk weights and prices realized, key liveauctioneers.com and worthpoint.com. You’ll have to pay for short-term use of the latter.

Q: How do I find out if my collection of records — 45 rpm Dixieland and 75 rpm classical — have any value?

A: Generally, record speeds are 33⅓, 45 or 78 rpm. I’m going to assume our reader means 78s, since many classical records were recorded at that speed.

75s were shellac records, produced for a short period. That’s a different collector category.

A records price guide publisher once told us that classical 78s are a virtual no-sell, with few exceptions. Read on for one.

The only widely released 78s with current value are very early hillbilly, blues, and jazz. We’re talking circa 1920s genre. To that add specific non-swing jazz of the ’50s such as Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, plus pre-war country or hillbilly artists.

In the case of 45s, value depends on what you have. While this is the most collected record format, 45s top off at under $10 for a popular, near-mint record to four figures for a 1954-55 Elvis recording on Sun Records.

Our reader should know that in many cases, original picture sleeves for 45s sell for more than the records. Again, top dollar goes to specific rock groups and emerging genres.

As Jellyroll Productions, Jerry Osborne has published record price guides for decades. To learn about his latest guide to vinyl, key jerryosborne.com. He also appraises for $10 per item through the site.

When we checked, Osborne posted a list of top dollar classical records, topped by $8,000-plus for a circa 1956 boxed set of seven discs (Pathe, made in France) featuring a comprehensive collection of Mozart works by varied performers.

A visit to a local library may yield price guides to records, as well.

Auction Action: When it comes to space autographs, astronaut Neil Armstrong’s signature is the rarest and most elusive. He did not grant many signings. And, as the first to set foot on the moon, he is significant, even among early astronauts.

When a rare 1970 autograph by Armstrong sold for $38,838 recently at Heritage Auctions, it brought almost five times pre-auction estimate for several reasons. Written for the editor of a Peoria, Ill. newspaper, it remained in the family for 40-plus years, along with copies of correspondence to and from Armstrong. More importantly, Armstrong wrote out and signed the first words he intended to say when he became first to set foot on the moon. Armstrong inscribed his signature: “That’s one small step for a man and one giant leap for mankind.”

Collector Quiz

Q: What do these Depression Glass patterns have in common: Pineapple and Floral (Indiana), Royal Ruby (Anchor Hocking), Florentine No.2 (Hazel-Atlas), Iris (Jeannette)?

A: All have been widely reproduced. Source: “Mauzy’s Comprehensive Handbook of Depression Glass Prices: 10th Ed.” by Barbara and Jim Mauzy, (Schiffer, $12.99). Fits in the glove compartment for easy reference on trips to antiques markets.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.


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